T-Mobile wants to take spectrum away from Dish to auction off for 5G

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What you need to know

  • T-Mobile has filed a request with the FCC to strip satellite companies of the 12GHz band to re-auction for use in 5G deployment.
  • Dish wants the FCC to reconsider its stance on the 12GHz band to build out its own 5G network.
  • The 12GHz band is owned by satellite companies for one-way broadcasts but is alleged to be "minimally active."

The fight for 5G dominance continues as some of the best wireless carriers in the U.S. take the battle to the 12GHz band. As the FCC reevaluates the band for potential use in mobile networks, T-Mobile is trying to convince the commission that satellite companies should be stripped of the 12GHz band so that the spectrum can be auctioned off for use in 5G.

The filing, obtained by Light Reading, mentions Dish, which currently holds the most licenses in the 12GHz band. Dish has also been urging the FCC to reconsider its stance on the 12GHz band so that it can use it to build its 5G network. The difference between its approach and T-Mobile's is that while Dish hopes to hold onto its licenses and repurpose them, T-Mobile wants to put them up for auction. The argument is more or less that Dish is currently hoarding its spectrum licenses since "they are only minimally active."

The 12GHz band is coveted by some of the best 5G networks because it's "one of the best positioned mid-band spectrum bands potentially available for 5G," according to Fierce Wireless). Mid-band spectrum is known for providing faster speeds than low-band and more consistent speeds than mmWave 5G. As Dish continues to build out its 5G network, the company has an advantage with its spectrum holdings in the 12GHz band, giving it a leg up as a new up-and-coming nationwide 5G carrier.

T-Mobile currently holds the most mid-band spectrum for its mobile network thanks to its purchase of Sprint. The merger condition was to establish Dish as a new national carrier, allowing it to piggyback on T-Mobile's network as it builds its own. So far, things between the two companies have been heated since T-Mobile has scheduled to shut down Sprint's legacy 3G CDMA network, which many Boost Mobile subscribers (now owned by Dish) rely on.

The most recent spectrum auction raised over $80 billion for C-band spectrum, which was reallocated from satellite companies for use in mobile communications. T-Mobile is hoping the FCC will consider this once again with the 12GHz band, to the detriment of Dish, and to further bolster T-Mobile's 5G position.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.